After watching the movie, seeing the tepid reviews roll in and eyeing the film’s lukewarm weekend box office, I have to say that The Losers might be the most aptly titled film of the year.
The two-star seal of mediocrity being bestowed upon the movie is more for the The Losers’ complete superfluousness and half-baked nature than anything else. Director Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard) has obviously seen some good action movies in his time, he just forgot to rip off the stuff that makes them good, instead yanking the window dressing. The Losers is very much of the Tarantino/Rodriguez/Ritchie triumvirate of clever, energized action movies and an attempt at a slick, stylish, colorful shoot ‘em up. At best, White has already been trumped. It’s hard to be occasionally trashy and sometimes frenzied when Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have already more than covered that ground—and with abandon—with their Crank films. At worst, White is constantly cherry-picking bits and pieces of other directors’ styles, while never adding his own spin, making The Losers about as useful as a photocopy of the Mona Lisa.
The plot, such as it is, follows a group of misfit soldiers (think of the movie as A-Team Redux). Betrayed by the government during a mission in Bolivia, the soldiers are dead set on revenge. That’s the basic setup, and it exists simply to move the film from action piece to action piece. Nothing in the film can be considered very memorable. The cast is fine (though Jeffrey Dean Morgan has the look of a man shot up with horse tranquilizers), but there’s nary an attempt at characterization, trading that in for a collection of clichés instead. There’s the gruff, no-nonsense commander (Morgan), the nerdy comic-relief guy (Chris Evans) and the hothead (Idris Elba). They all gripe and moan at each other in supposedly clever, pithy ways—except here, clever and pithy never crawls outside the realm of momma jokes.
We even get one of those movie bad guys—here, a government agent named Max (Jason Patric)—who is so evil he arbitrarily shoots his henchman (or in this case, henchwoman) in the head for no reason. He’s also involved in setting off some sort of bomb that swallows up entire landmasses, a vague MacGuffin so cheesy it’d be more at home in a Superman comic. Someone, please get this man a mustache to twirl. All of this is supposed to be the expense of saving America, making Max a variant on Johnny Depp’s character in Once Upon a Time In Mexico (2003). The only problem here is that Jason Patric is no Johnny Depp, much like the movie isn’t a whole lot of things, besides, of course, being pretty uneventful. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality and language.